North Korea slams US for 'evil' sanctions push

At their first meeting in Singapore in June, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump signed a vaguely-worded pledge on denuclearisation, but little progress has been made since then
PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL - North Korean state media on Tuesday (Oct 16) slammed the United States for an "evil" attempt to maintain sanctions against Pyongyang, accusing President Donald Trump of blocking progress in inter-Korean relations.

The declaration threatens to upset the negotiations between Washington and the nuclear-armed North, in which Mr Trump is expected to hold a second summit soon with Pyongyang's leader, Mr Kim Jong Un.

At their first meeting in Singapore in June, they signed a vaguely-worded pledge on denuclearisation, but little progress has been made since then, with the two sides sparring over the meaning of the text.

Pyongyang has not made any explicit public promise to give up its existing arsenal, but has repeatedly called for UN Security Council sanctions imposed over its weapons programmes to be loosened, citing a freeze in its nuclear and missile tests.

When Trump met Kim: A Singapore story

  • Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un made history Tuesday, becoming the first sitting US and North Korean leaders to meet and shake hands, as they seek to end a tense decades-old nuclear stand-off.
  • It was a meeting many would have thought unimaginable just months ago.
  • The two men strode toward each other and shared the momentous handshake beneath the white-washed walls of an upscale hotel in neutral Singapore, before sitting down for a half-day of meetings with major ramifications for the world.
  • Prior to the meeting held at Capella Hotel in Singapore's resort island of Sentosa, Trump had said that he would know "within the first minute", whether any agreement would be possible.
  • The watching world is not sure if it's the start of a beautiful, budding "bromance", but here's a look at how the world's most talked-about first date unfolded.
  • Their handshake reportedly lasted for 12 long seconds (though still 7 seconds shorter than his memorable handshake with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe).
  • Trump also reached out to touch the North Korean leader on his right shoulder.
  • According to a body language expert Karen Leong, the first 60 seconds showed both leaders seeking to take charge in their encounter. US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un both sought to project a sense of command. "Their handshake seems to be between peers," she said.
  • "Trump seemed to be very aware of this, that he needed to up the stakes and be seen that he is the leader."
  • Trump did most of the talking, and Kim appeared to listen attentively, turning to him three times during their walk toward their meeting room.
  • Trump did most of the talking, and Kim appeared to listen attentively, turning to him three times during their walk toward their meeting room.
  • The US President, who is more than twice Kim's age, then appeared to lead the way to the library where they held a one-on-one meeting, placing his hand on the North Korean leader's counterpart's back.
  • Kim also patted the US president' arm, in an attempt to show control over the encounter, said Leong.
  • The leaders appeared to share a few light-hearted moments as they walked down a corridor to the hotel's library.
  • However, Leong said both found it difficult to conceal their nervousness once they were seated, with Trump displaying a slanted smile, and fidgeting with his hands and Kim leaning and staring at the ground.
  • As they sat down for their one-on-one meeting, the US leader predicted a "terrific relationship" with Kim.
  • Mr Kim then said through a translator: “The way to come to here was not easy.The old prejudices and practices worked as obstacles on our way forward but we overcame all of them and we are here today.”
  • After their closed door one-on-one talks, the pair continued with explanded bilateral talks with their delegation. Trump was flanked by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, chief of staff John Kelly and national security adviser John Bolton.
  • Sitting across the table from the US team were North Korean leader Kim, Kim Yong-chol, first vice department director of the ruling Workers’ Party’s central committee, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho and Ri Su-yong, Workers’ Party vice chairman on international affairs.
  • Thereafter, the two leaders attended a working lunch with their respective delegations at Capella Hotel.
  • On the lunch menu: Main courses include beef short rib confit, served with potato dauphinois and steamed broccoli; sweet and sour crispy pork and fried rice with an "XO" chilli sauce as well as a Korean dish called "daegu jorim", which is a soy braised cod fish with radish and Asian vegetables.
  • Post-lunch, Kim and Trump then went for a leisurely stroll around the hotel grounds.
  • He also said talks had gone "better than anybody could have expected", and indicated that they were heading for a "signing", but did not divulge any details of the agreement.
  • During their walk, Trump unexpectedly gave Kim a peek into his super limo, nicknamed "The Beast".
  • But they did not get to hop on to go for a joyride, as commentators had hoped.
  • The pair met to sign an agreement, details of which were not revealed during the signing. Trump said: "We're signing a very important document, pretty comprehensive document, and we've had a really great time together, a great relationship... More will be discussed at a press conference soon."
  • When asked what he learnt about Kim, Trump said that he is "a very talented man", and that "he loves his country very much".
  • Mr Trump also described Mr Kim as a "very worthy, very smart negotiator".
  • According to sources after the signing, the two leaders pledged to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, while Washington committed to provide security guarantees for its old enemy.
  • The signatures of US President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un. Trump said he expected the denuclearization process to start "very, very quickly".
  • Kim places a hand on Trump's back as they leave the room after the signing.
  • After the signing, the pair walked out for another round of photo-taking.
  • Reports say Mr Kim departed Singapore on a chartered Air China flight at 11.20pm and midnight on Tuesday, while Trump left on Air Force One earlier at 6.25pm.
  • At 4pm, Trump held a press conference on the summit outcome and details on the agreement signed.
  • "We signed a joint statement that is an unwavering commitment to complete denuclearisation of North Korea," he says.
  • The Capella Hotel on Singapore's resort island of Sentosa, provided the backdrop for the historic summit.
  • Trump's motorcade arriving at Sentosa on Tuesday (June 12) morning.
  • Setting the stage ready for the handshake that will be seen across the world.

For its part, Washington has been adamant the measures should be maintained until Pyongyang's complete denuclearisation.

Washington was playing a "double game", said a lengthy commentary carried by the North's official KCNA news agency, and was "little short of destroying" the rare diplomatic opportunity between the two.

"Hostile policy and reciprocity can not go together," it said, and negotiations would not move forward "an inch with an obstacle called sanctions".

"The US... is responding to good faith with evil," it added.

'ENRAGED ALL KOREANS'

KCNA said the article, nearly 1,700 words long and titled, "What Do Ill-boding Remarks from US Signify," had been "made public" by one Kim Chol Myong.

No further details about its origins or the author's affiliation were given, suggesting that "Kim Chol Myong" is likely to be a pseudonym.

But the fact that it was carried by Pyongyang's official news agency indicates that it has the authorities' approval.

It was published just days after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Pyongyang and said he had "productive" talks on denuclearisation with the North Korean leader.

After an earlier Pompeo visit in July, the North issued an angrily-worded official Foreign Ministry statement condemning what it called his "unilateral" demands for its disarmament, describing them as "gangster-like".

It cast doubt on the prospects for progress - even though it proclaimed "our good faith in President Trump" - and prompted the US leader to cancel a scheduled August trip to Pyongyang by his Secretary of State, before a fresh round of visits and a letter from Mr Kim restarted the process.

But Tuesday's declaration went further, implicitly criticising the US leader, who is known to consider personal relationships important.

Without naming Mr Trump, it referred to his comments last week that Seoul would not lift its own sanctions against the North "without our approval".

"Even the White House made such threatening words," KCNA said, "enraging not only south Koreans but all other Koreans."

South Korea's dovish President Moon Jae-in - who has held three meetings with Mr Kim this year - has vowed to honour the UN sanctions, but agreed to pursue a handful of joint economic projects with the North.

After his visit this month, Mr Pompeo said Mr Kim had agreed to allow international inspectors to visit a nuclear test site that the North dismantled in May, but did not elaborate on any offers made by the US in return.